CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) -- There's a new way to tour schools in the UNC system. Officials are launching a first-of-its-kind project that lets prospective students and their parents check out a school using virtual technology.
The video tours, for all 16 UNC-system schools, are accessible through the GEAR UP app.
"Many of us don't fully appreciate that the campus visit is an accessibility issue. Without it, college can become a guessing game or, too often, a distant pipe dream," said UNC System President Margaret Spellings. "This virtual reality technology gives every North Carolinian the opportunity to make more informed choices about where they want to go. Just as importantly, it helps them figure out how they're going to get there."
You can walk the halls of North Carolina A&T, stroll the quad at UNC-Chapel Hill, take off in the aviation department at Elizabeth City State University, or go inside a greenhouse at Appalachian State.
"We have so many awesome institutions across our state," said UNC system spokesperson Josh Ellis. "We're certainly proud to be first in the nation to launch this initiative."
The project is being funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It took 500 hours of planning and 350 hours of filming, but it offers priceless access opportunity to the public.
"We recognize that access to higher education is a big priority for the system and one of the ways this addresses it is by making a virtual tour available for students who parents may not have the luxury of being able to commit the time or resources that would take to go see a campus," Ellis said.
There is no charge for downloading or using the GEAR UP NC VR app, which is available in the Apple and Google stores by searching for GEAR UP VR.
In addition, 21 GEAR UP high schools across the state will receive GEAR UP NC branded cardboard virtual reality headsets and earbuds-enough to ensure that each school can coordinate class-wide "tours."